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Lawmaker says Obama's war plans based on politics, not victory: 'He has a political strategy to get us beyond November 4

WASHINGTON D.C. - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on stage for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards dinner, September 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. The CBC's annual conference brings together activists, politicians and business leaders to discuss public policy impacting Black communities in America and abroad. Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Monday accused President Barack Obama of letting politics determine the way he's waging war against the Islamic State, and said Obama so far isn't pursuing any military plan that will succeed against the terrorist group.

"The president doesn't have an effective military strategy," Cotton said in a Senate debate against his opponent, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). "He has a political strategy to get us beyond November 4. What we need is to take it seriously."

Like other Republicans have in recent weeks, Cotton blasted Obama for saying up front that no U.S. ground forces would be used. That strategy has allowed the Islamic State to make gains in Iraq and Syria — this week, the group was threatening Baghdad, and was closer to taking over a Kobani, a town bordering Syria and Turkey.

The lack of ground troops has led even the Pentagon to concede that the U.S. can't win back territory from the Islamic State, and may not be able to defend Kobani or other towns.

"No serious leader, certainly no commander-in-chief, would ever take any option off the ground, including boots on the ground," Cotton said. "Because the Islamic state certainly isn't taking any options off the table."

Cotton said Obama's failure to leave a small force behind in Iraq is what allowed the Islamic State to thrive, and said that decision and others has weakened U.S. leadership and led to increased risks.

"Barack Obama's foreign policy of weakness, hesitation and indecision has made America face greater risks in the world," he said.

While Republicans have broadly criticized Obama's plan in the Middle East as ineffective, it's not yet clear that Republicans will try force a vote that somehow opens up the use of ground troops against the Islamic State.

Cotton is running to replace Pryor in the Senate, and in some of the latest polls, he was ahead by a few points.

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